What does it take to become an elite athlete in Australian sport? We’ve all spent hours as kids, (and perhaps as adults as well) daydreaming about our favourite sporting heroes and wanting to be just like them. We watch as they kick the perfect goal or break world records and follow their every move, watching the glamorous lives that they lead. However, behind every elite athlete at the top of their chosen sport are years of blood, sweat and tears to get there. So, if you have the dream to become an elite athlete here are 6 Things You Need to Become an Elite Athlete in Australian Sport
You have to want to get to the top of your game because you truly love what you do! You have to do it for you and not for the money, the fame, family expectations or any other outside influence. It’s a long, hard road to the top so you will need to draw on that passion when there’s nothing else left in the tank. It’s crucial to have a strong support system around you in terms of family and friends but having a true passion for your sport is what will push you ahead of others who are spurred on mainly by outside influences.
Elite athletes are always looking for ways to keep ahead of the competition, even the slightest advantage could mean the difference between winning and losing. It may take years of perfecting and tweaking what works in regards to physical and mental training, nutrition, rest, and pre and post game practices to find a routine that gives them the best results. They test any new method one by one to see if it increases performance. Once they find what works they commit 100% to their routine only ever altering their routine after thoroughly testing any new method.
In every sport you need a focused mind and a long attention span to be able to repeat the same action day after day after day. Whether you are a professional footballer practicing that same kick for hours every day or a professional basketballer practising that same 3 point shot thousands of times a week, this is the only way you will achieve mastery of your sport. This mastery will take years of boring, monotonous repeated practice to obtain, but elite athletes thrive on this boredom. They perform the same action over and over for years on end with very little variation, with their only aim to improve on the last. This is mastery and mastery is crucial if you are to succeed at becoming an elite athlete.
To get to elite athlete level you need to train consistently over a long period of time. The goal is to build your strength slowly and steadily as this will stop you from burning out and prevent your body from deteriorating with age. Elite athletes need to push themselves and train hard to strengthen the body, which for most athletes means focusing on hardening the back, forearms, hamstrings and glutes, but not so hard that it becomes a chore. Although training should be challenging, it should also be enjoyable if you are to keep up with the levels of training required to become an elite athlete. So, it’s all about slowly and steadily building and hardening your body over time if you want to perform at the highest levels over many years.
So we’ve just discussed the importance of building and maintaining a strong body, but it is crucial that you have the physical and mental strength to push through the pain and keep going when your body isn’t at it’s best. As an elite athlete, there will be times over your career when you suffer from injuries, some minor and others that would put the average person out of action. It’s very rare to have sustained a long career as an elite athlete and come out 100% healthy. The truth is, most athletes spend the majority of their career in some form of physical or mental pain but they find a way to push through the pain and still perform, which is what makes them great. This inner strength and high pain tolerance is crucial if you are to become an elite athlete in any sport.
If you’re going to make it as an elite athlete, you need to be resilient, including a strong mind and thick skin. You will not always perform at you best, so it is inevitable that you will be on the receiving end of some harsh criticism at some point in your career. Before the time of social media this criticism and player bashing came mainly from coaches, fellow players and sports commentators.That type of criticism is hard enough to handle but today with social media platforms such as Facebook and twitter anyone can be a critic and before you know it thousands of people, including fans have turned on you for all the world to see. It takes a strong mind and truckloads of resilience if you are to get through these low points in your career.
So, if you are thinking a career as an elite athlete is for you, or you have a child who dreams of following in their sporting heroes footsteps, hopefully this article has opened your eyes to the struggles and challenges that you’ll face along the way. The truth is that it’s not an easy path to travel, but if you have or are willing to learn the qualities listed above you are well on your way, and the rewards and satisfaction that comes from being the best of the best in your chosen sport will be more than worth it.